When a couple asks me if they can bring their pets to their engagement session my response is HECK YES. I don’t have pets myself, but my husband and I did have a hedgehog named Pippin, he was the best. I know how sentimental pets are to couples, especially if they’ve had them the entirety of the relationship. Sometimes it’s a childhood pet, or they got the pet together. No matter the pet, I’m always game. If you bring your tarantula, I may be a little standoffish, but I will suck it up and do it! I’m dedicated gosh darn it! I’ve mainly worked with horses, dogs, and cats. I’m waiting or the day a couple brings their snake, hedgehog, chameleon or anything else awesome like that though!
Your pets are your babies, they are a part of your little family and will be for a long time. If your pets are special to you and bring you joy, then what better way to show that than including them in your engagement session?
I put together a few tips for you to have the best engagement session with pets. Because let’s face it, sometimes it’s like trying to lasso water to get them to cooperate.
1. Find a Pet-Friendly Photographer
First off, make sure your photographer is chill with you bringing your pet and give them a heads up. Let them know what kind of pet and if you have anything specific in mind. That way they can come up with awesome ways to include them in your session with fun prompts! Personally, as I mentioned above, I’m always game to do engagement sessions with pets, I think it is a blast!
2. Choose a Pet-Friendly Location
Once you’ve found your dream photographer, who is an animal lover, it’s time to think of locations. Keep in mind any special needs your pets may have, fears or comfort levels. Also, consider the locations themselves and if they are safe and pet-friendly. Your photographer can tell you which locations may or may not work depending on your pet. If you have a dog that hates running water, locations with rivers or creeks won’t be a good idea. If you have a horse, you will be limited in parks and locations, if you have a bird you need somewhere it won’t fly away, etc.
3. Pick an Activity That They Enjoy
If you often take your dog for walks or snuggle with your cat at home. Ride your horse through the mountains or take your hedgehog on a stroll through a park. Whatever the case, incorporating that into the session with your pet will make them at ease.
4. Neutral Colored Leashes if Applicable
For engagement sessions with pets, it’s important to take into consideration if your pet needs a lead or harness of some sort. Iyour pet does require something of the sort definitely pay attention to colors! Choose neutral colors such as blacks, whites or greys, as well as natural colors like browns. If you can coordinate with your outfits that always looks nice as well, not super matchy, but just a color that will blend in better than a neon pink leash.
5. Bring Treats or Toys
If your pet is the kind of pet that can be bribed with treats or toys, then definitely bring them! It helps to have something to wave around draw attention to me. Often a dog’s favorite toy, a laser pointer for a cat, dog/cat chews, carrots for horses, or whatever else your pet loves. I’m not entirely sure how you would apply this to a reptile, hedgehogs are hit or miss, but anything you believe would work is better than nothing. Also, bring them water so they can perk up on a hot day and not get too exhausted.
6. Include Your Pets in The Last Part of The Engagement Session
While including your pet in your engagement session is all fun and dandy, I definitely want the focus to be on you and your relationship. Bring your pet out towards the end of the session during your casual outfit so you can let loose. Be sure to keep the first chunk of your session focused on you both as a couple without the distraction of watching your pets. Even bringing a third person to watch your pet is helpful.
7. Cleanup Bags
If your pet decides to do its business while we’re out and about it’s good to have a way to clean it up and leave no trace. It also prevents me from stupidly kneeling it like I totally did while shooting in a field one time, which trust me, was NOT fun haha!
8. Have Fun!
Including your pets in your engagement session is always a blast! But do keep in mind that getting pets to sit still and perfectly pose for photos is hard. Prepare yourself for some laughter, maybe some frustration, a bit of chasing and a whole lot of fun! To be honest, the best photos with pets are always the ones where couples are interacting with them. Photos of them walking, loving on them, etc. Posed ones are nice too, don’t get me wrong, but there is something special about the candids.
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Well, there you have it! 8 tips to get you closer to having the best engagement session with pets ever! I hope this was helpful <3 For other engagement session tips and tricks check out this blog post on how to plan the best engagement session in general!